Balanced Mind,  Fitness,  Self Care,  Yoga and Meditation

What is meditation, will it benefit me?

If mindfulness is being in the moment, then meditation is being deeply in the moment. An old Zen saying suggests, “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”
There are many forms of meditation. You might be asking yourself, which one is right for me? I have been asking myself this question and learning more about meditation through my continuing education studies and by using the CALM app, which I added to my phone.
Meditation is a technique that has been used for thousands of years to develop an awareness of the present moment. The practice helps to sharpen focus and attention, connect to the body and breath, develop acceptance of difficult emotions, and even alter consciousness. It’s been shown to offer many physical and psychological benefits like stress reduction, improved mood, and improved immunity, and it can even help chronic pain. These are just to name a few. While many spiritual traditions include meditation as a part of their teachings and practices, the technique itself doesn’t belong to any religion or faith. Though ancient in origin, it’s still practiced today in cultures worldwide to create a sense of peace, calm, and inner harmony.
There are nine popular types of meditation practice:

Mindfulness meditation-originates from Buddhist teachings and is the most popular form of meditation in the West. In mindfulness meditation, you pay attention to your thoughts as they pass through your mind. You do not judge the thoughts or become involved with them. You simply observe and take note of any patterns. This practice combines concentration with awareness. With this form of practice, you may find it helpful to focus on an object or your breath while you observe any bodily sensations, thoughts, or feelings. It is good for people who don’t have a teacher to guide them, as it can be easily practiced alone. I enjoy practicing this form of meditation in the evening just before bed with calming music from my CALM app. 

Focused meditation– involves concentration using any of the five senses. For example, you can focus on something internal, like your breath, or you can bring in external influences to help focus your attention. Examples include counting mala beads, listening to a gong, staring at a candle flame, counting your breaths, or moon gazing. This practice is ideal for anyone who wants to sharpen their focus and attention, although it can be difficult for beginners to hold their focus for longer than a few minutes at first. If your mind does wander, simply come back to the practice and refocus.

Movement meditation-This practice may include walking, gardening, qi gong, tai chi, or other gentle forms of movement like YogaThis is an active form of meditation where the movement guides you into a deeper connection with your body and the present moment.

Movement Meditation

Mantra meditation– is prominent in many teachings, including Hindu and Buddhist traditions. This type of meditation uses a repetitive sound to clear the mind. It can be a word, phrase, or sound; one of the most common is “om.” Your mantra can be spoken loudly or quietly. After chanting the mantra for some time, you’ll be more alert and in tune with your environment. This allows you to experience deeper levels of awareness. Some people enjoy mantra meditation because they find it easier to focus on a word than on their breath. Others enjoy feeling the vibration of the sound in their body. I have tried this in my car when I feel stressed or if another driver has made me upset. I simply start to say the sound “om,” and I keep doing it until I feel calm again. 

Transcendental meditation-(TM) is a type of meditation that’s been the subject of numerous studies in the scientific community.TM was founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and referred to a specific practice designed to quiet the mind and induce a state of calm and peace. It involves the use of mantras and is best taught by a certified TM practitioner.

Progressive relaxation-Also known as body scan meditation, progressive relaxation is a practice aimed at reducing tension in the body and promoting relaxation. This form of meditation involves slowly tightening and relaxing one muscle group at a time throughout the body. This form of meditation is often used to relieve stress and unwind before bedtime. I was taught this form of meditation while I was in college. I have used it many times when I felt stressed as a means to fall asleep while lying in bed, but you can use it anytime and anywhere. 

Loving-kindness meditation– is used to strengthen feelings of compassion, kindness, and acceptance toward oneself and others. It typically involves opening the mind to receive love from others and then sending well wishes to loved ones, friends, acquaintances, and all living beings. Because this type of meditation is intended to promote compassion and kindness, it may be ideal for those holding feelings of anger or resentment (Healthline.com)

Visualization meditation-focuses on the use of guided imagery to cultivate certain psychological qualities. It also draws upon the ability to observe and connect to the present moment.  However, visualization uses thoughts with emotions to “see” and feel something specific. This connection creates a desired state of being, helping you take purposeful action in your life.

Spiritual Meditation

Spiritual meditation– This practice has been used in nearly all religions and spiritual traditions. It focuses on developing a deeper understanding of spiritual/religious meaning and connection with a higher power. A few examples are Christian contemplative prayer, Sufi dhikr (remembrance of God), and Jewish kabbalistic practices. Spiritual meditation can be practiced at home or in a place of worship. This practice is beneficial for those who seek spiritual growth and a deeper connection to a higher power or spiritual force.

In conclusion, meditation lets you become more aware and more purposeful about your actions. It teaches you how to respond, rather than react, to situations in your life. This practise sounds simple, but it takes discipline to remain still in body and mind. Practicing meditation can help you gain a new perspective on stressful situations, build skills to help you manage your stress, help you to increase your self-awareness, assist you in focusing on the present, reducing negative emotions; it also helps you to improve your imagination and creativity while increasing patience and tolerance.

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